Ah, December 1st.
Time to break open the first window of that chocolate advent calendar, as per usual.
And then wait 24 hours before national lockdown finishes...as not quite per usual.
Let's be frank here; no one in Britain ever needs an excuse to drink.
Especially not in the run-up to Christmas.
And certainly not after the year we’ve all had.
Neither Clarke or myself can lecture anyone on their drinking habits.
Seeing as we both have a history of imbibing like a rugby team on a stag do.
We just want to make sure that you are equipped with the knowledge that we weren’t.
Specifically when it comes to drinking and depression.
We’ve all had Beer Fear, the morning after the night before.
Clarkey calls it “the wardrobe monsters”.
For me, as a very highly strung person, hangovers would be accompanied by panic attacks.
l would be too scared to leave my bedroom.
Even the bathroom seemed a trip too far.
But the hangover symptoms of my December drinking?
They were different.
l would awake with a feeling like a boulder was sitting on my chest.
Nothing l could do would shift it, or the heavy feelings and morbid thoughts that accompanied it.
Then, the Christmas period would pass.
l’d drink less, maybe join a gym for January, like the rest of the country.
Before settling back in to my usual style of heavy drinking.
In retrospect, armed with the information l know now.
It's obvious why my symptoms changed in December:
Though l drank a hell of a lot during the rest if the year, l had to curtail it, just enough so that my body coped.
l still had to hold down a job.
There would be nights where there was no one to go out and drink with.
Friends would express their concern for the amount l drank, or my drunken behaviour, so l would rein it in a bit to get them off my back.
Life would interfere just enough to keep me and my drinking, out of the crisis zone.
When you are more likely to get away with turning up for work in a state.
December, when there is always someone to drink with, any day of the week.
And no one gets on your case about going overboard.
As your behaviour is no different from Nigel in accounts who is a-top the photocopier, duplicating images of his unmentionables whilst wearing a tie around his head.
As a problem drinker l was cut a lot of slack in December.
Definitely enough to push me over the edge.
My brains chemistry would be horribly affected by my incessant December drinking.
l would go from someone who never experienced low moods, to a person in a state of chemical depression.
And l had no idea l was doing it to myself.
l just assumed the world was a bleak place at the end of the year.
Not everyone is a problem drinker.
But we have all had a crap year.
Our minds have experienced the trauma of 2020.
None of us have been spared the change in brain chemistry that comes hand-in-hand with it.
Those of us who were experiencing anxiety or depression pre-2020, need to be even more mindful of the depressive properties of alcohol.
This is especially important for people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Alcohol and severe depression are a horribly dangerous combination.
They are an emotional ticking time bomb and December is a hair trigger.
Which is why we need to keep a more careful eye on our December drinking this year.
Knowledge is power.
And this kind of information plays an important part in keeping us all away from this precipice,
Giving us all a fighting chance this December.